Gusty winds or not, the conditions were favorable for Little Wound’s Lance Christensen at the Class A boys state golf tournament in Vermillion on Tuesday. Unfortunately, ill-winds were the norm for a couple of Rapid City Stevens golfers at the Class AA tournament in Yankton on Tuesday.
Christensen carded a final round of 80 at The Bluffs golf course for a two-day total of 157 to earn medalist honors at the Class A event, while Raiders' Ben Daane and Adam Salter struggled down the stretch and finished in a tie for second, two shots back of Jack Lundin of Sioux Falls Roosevelt in the Class AA tournament at Hillcrest Country Club in Yankton.
As for Christensen, the wind was just another normal day of golf.
“Where I’m from the winds blows all the time, so I’m used to it,” Christensen said. “It was just another 18 holes as far as I was concerned. I didn’t think about it. I just wanted to hit fairways and greens and try to make pars, which I knew would be a good score today.”
With bogeys the norm on the day, keeping an even keel was indeed the key. Christensen did just that shooting matching 40s on the front and back. And effectively clinched the championship with a birdie on the par-five 15th hole.
“It was tough to putt today in the wind. You pick a line and then the wind blows it, but we maintained and had a couple birdies today,” said Christensen, who learned the game from his father while practicing at the golf course in Gordon, Neb., a 45-mile drive one-way. “I grew up in a golfing family. My dad played golf in high school and my family has always supported me. I’ve always looked up to native golfers and wanted to be like them. And I would like to thank Little Wound school for putting up with us and putting in the membership at Gordon, and travel throughout the year. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Keaton Nighbert of Madison was the runner-up (81-81—162), one-shot better than Carson Van Beek (Sioux Falls Christian) and two clear of Nate Buisker (Sioux Valley) and Cooper Leslie (Tea Area).
Custer’s Austin Eggers finished 29th (84-94—178), Cade Kandolin led St. Thomas More (T-30th, 90-89—179), Lance Sutter led Belle Fourche (T40th, 87-96—183) and Jacob Harris was the low scorer for Hot Springs (97-90—187).
Sioux Falls Christian (330) dethroned Tea Area (347) for the team title.
While competitors posted big numbers on the back side, Lundin parred the last three holes to shoot five-over 77 and for a 36 total of 150 in earning his second SDHSAA Class AA individual title, the first earned as an 8th grader in 2015.
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Nash Stenberg (73-79—152) shared second place with Daane (71-81) and Salter (73-79) followed by Jacob Stewart (SFO, 77-76—153) in fifth while Spearfish junior Sam Grout (75-80—155) earned a share of sixth.
Sioux Falls Roosevelt (625) nipped Sioux Falls Lincoln and O’Gorman by two shots to earn the team title. The Rapid City Stevens quartet of Daane, Salter Jonah Swartz (78-83—161) and Jackson Swartz (86-84—170 finished fourth (635) while Yankton (641) rounded out the top five. Spearfish (701) finished 11th, Rapid City Central led by Alex Duran (78-81—159, T12) finished 14th and Douglas (904) 17th.
“Just keep it in play was what I was thinking going out," Lundin said. “I knew the wind was going to spread the field with the conditions being so tough. Props to the other players because they played hard and I just happened to beat them by a little bit.”
While five players — Lundin, Daane, Salter, Nash Stenberg (SFL), Jacob Steward (SFO) — went into the final three holes with a shot at the state title, only Lundin was able to play the difficult concluding holes in even par.
“Sixteen is a really hard par three and I just wanted to put it on the green and two-putt,” said Lundin, who won his first title as an 8th grader at Meadowbrook in Rapid City. “And 17 is a very hard driving hole, so I just keep it in the center of the fairway and lay it up and get it on the green with four-iron, four-iron, and nine-iron.”
Ben Daane endured one of those days when shots that feel-good-off-the-club face seem to find trouble nonetheless.
“I had trouble today judging the wind and how the winds were going to react. On a couple of the downwind shots, I flew it right where I wanted to and it went over the back,” Daane said. “I was hitting it pretty well today but just had trouble judging shots.”
And Salter had the misfortune of missing some makeable putts early that would have provided a cushion later on including a double bogey on 15, and a wayward tee shot on 17 that went out-of-bounds.
“The last few holes in the back were what caused me to fall down the drain,” Salter said. “I bogeyed 17 and 18, but the one I would really like to have back is 15 where I made a stupid double bogey. I hit a couple dumb shots by trying to do too much with too little.”